Sunday, July 31, 2016

5 Weeks Until Nationals

We're now into the home stretch with 5 weeks until the SCCA Solo Nationals in Lincoln Nebraska!  The Miata's got several more events lined up in August to get some final seat time in and make sure the car is 100% ready to go.

With a ton of help from Jason and Phillip, today we got the car back on the lift for another crack at stopping the oil leak and moving to a different brake pad setup. Step one was simply to remove the OEM brake pads and the rotors they were mated to.  These pads have been performing well but have not been delivering the initial braking force I'd like to have on an autocross. The second step was to swap in the heavy duty track pads by Carbotech and the rotors they were mated to for my track day with NASA last year.
Each corner only takes 4 bolts to swap it all out, but one really good friend to bleed all the fluid!

Now that the engine cooled down, we took a look at the camshaft seals and the valve cover seal.  The intake cam seal was looking particularly oily and is our top suspect for the quart of oil that has been bleeding out after a few autocross runs. New gaskets were installed, surfaces were wiped clean and everything put back in it's place. So far the car is staying dry, but we'll see how things look after next weekend in Charlotte with CCR.

Mid-progress on replacing cam seals. Big wrenches hold the cams in place to re-set the timing.
Previously you saw the rear trunk lid of the Miata sample various plasti-dip red paint, but it's finally time to give it a proper paint job.  So far it's primed and a layer of red was put down.  It'll get sanded smooth this weekend before applying a gloss coat and re-attaching that decorative spoiler and we'll share the finished look in a week or so.
I need to mow anyway...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

All NMS Roads Lead to Charleston in August


Coming up on the weekend of August 13-14, the NMS team will reunite on the autocross field of competition at the North Charleston Coliseum parking lot for what could be the hottest weekend of the year. Yes indeed, maybe one of the hottest. Well, almost as hot as Nebraska will be in September. Maybe about as hot as that one event in Charlotte a few years ago. Not as hot as a bottle of hot sauce, but kinda warm. OK, so it's gonna have some heat. Close enough. Brian and Robert have driven at a few events together this year, so this one might be the big showdown for NMS team bragging rights.


On Saturday the 13th we will both be driving in the South Carolina Region of the SCCA autocross, and then working to support the Sunday Tire Rack Street Survival (TRSS) driving school for teens. The TRSS is a great grass-roots program that local car clubs host to give safe driver training to young folks up to age 21. In a safe environment (a parking lot without traffic), trained instructors present both classroom information and then practical coaching in the car to teach drivers how to handle their own cars to improve confidence and safety behind the wheel. This is not a competitive event and has nothing to do with speed. It's all about operating the car safely, knowing how the car responds, and gaining confidence and experience behind the wheel for younger drivers. You can read about the details and sign up a young driver at this link: AUG 14 INFO LINK   and you can of course find a Tire Rack Street Survival page on Facebook: TRSS Facebook LINK

The Tire Rack Street Survival folks report that in the US last year, over 5,000 teen drivers died in car accidents, and that vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for 16-19 year olds. If you want to learn more about the Street Survival program, check out their link here, and find an event near you:  Street Survival LINK

NMS reminds everyone to drive safely, look out for the other guy, and always make sure your car is maintained for safety.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Guess the Top Ten Tire Makers in America!

Ferrari 360
Your tires have a lot to do with how your car rides, how it handles, and what kind of mileage you get. Even more than that, your tires are the only four spots that (normally!) connect you and your car to the Earth, so they are critical to driving your car safely. Now don’t turn that around on me and ask if your car doesn’t have four tires if it will lose contact with Earth and float off into space. This is a car blog, not “Stump the Theoretical Physicists like Dr. Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory, CBS Thursdays.” If there’s one place that NMS doesn’t want to go cheap, it’s on tires and safety.

Hot Rod
So let’s just play a game! Who are the top ten automotive and tire makers in the US? This is really a trick question, because some of the companies in this top ten (as judged by sales) don’t make tires, they make other automotive parts out of plastics and rubber. So this quiz will be easy, right?
BMW i3 electric car wheel
Hey, who said life is fair? We played this game with guessing the top ten car makers in the world once, so let’s make it more challenging with tire, rubber, and plastics companies. What’s also tough about this is that most of these companies make more than one brand of tire, so it’s just about impossible to guess correctly.
Ford Mustang
Regardless, thanks to our friends at Rubber and Plastics News LINK
here’s the top ten, ranked from top selling in 2015, from 1-10. If you are a super auto geek you can even subscribe to the Rubber and Plastics News, which is one way we find out interesting things like this. Who knew that reading was fun and educational?

·      1-Bridgestone
·      2-Michelin
·      3-Goodyear
·      4-Continental
·      5-Cooper Tire & Rubber
·      6-Cooper Standard Automotive
·      7-Toyo
·      8-Yokohama
·      9- Gates
·     10- Parker-Hannifin

Right about now, if you’re still there and reading this informative blog, you’re probably wondering who in the world is Gates and Parker-Hannifin. If so, today is your lucky day, because we had to Google it ourselves!
NMS FIAT Abarth stock wheel
Gates doesn’t make tires, but they make a lot of other automotive and industrial rubber products for manufacturers and the after-market. According to the company website: “Gates Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer of power transmission belts and a premier global manufacturer of fluid power products.”
NMS FIAT Abarth Ciao Milano wheels
Parker-Hannifin’s website states: “Founded in 1917, Parker Hannifin Corporation is a global company with annual sales of approximately $13 billion in fiscal year 2015. Parker Hannifin is the world's leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of mobile, industrial and aerospace markets.”

So they don’t make tires, but they make stuff with plastics and rubber. Glad we could clear that up! Bottom line: drive safe, keep those tires inflated, and replace worn and dangerous tires.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Yeah, We Race Dirty Sometimes!

Saturday kicked off the first ever SCR-SCCA rallycross and IT WAS AWESOME.
We hoped for 30 and got 50!

Rallycross is easily the fastest growing program with the SCCA and after several months of preparations our South Carolina Region finally was able to line everything up. As popular as rallycross is becoming, it still sees far lower attendance than autocross.  The physical strain on a car off road is a little higher than on pavement so that does limit the number of people willing to give it a shot.
Course change for the afternoon. Worn grass from the morning action.

We were all shocked to come out Saturday to over 50 drivers, all willing to punish their cars and get dirty to have fun in near 100 degree heat all day!  Almost everyone was learning and few people had ever tried this sport before but we all figured it out and had a great time.
Phillip flings the Focus through the slaloms in the afternoon.

Huge thanks to Midway Motorsports Park, who typically host drag racing on their 1/4 mile track but decided to welcome the SCCA to tear up one of their grass parking lots. It's always great to find new venues who are so welcoming to trying new car events with us.
Leaving a wake of dust across the back sweepers of the course.

After spending a few weeks getting Phillip's blue Focus back in running shape we both took it to the dirt and gave it a thorough break-in.  The car handled great and was even more fun than when we had it out for a rallycross in Georgia last year.
Focus, fully rally-prepared Subaru, regular Subaru, or piece of junk old LeMons Civic. ALL FUN! 

In rallycross they total all runs for the day and you get a cumulative time for your final score.  Unlike autocross where you only take your top fastest single run, rallycross really measures consistency.  I managed to avoid hitting a single cone all day and edged out my co-driver by 10 seconds over 6 runs.

Rallycross is a blast.  If you have an old car (or TRUCK or SUV or ANYTHING!) that you don't mind getting dirty, I highly recommend finding the nearest SCCA rallycross event and give it a try. Above is a short video of some of the adventures we had on Saturday and hopefully the start to a great new program in South Carolina.

Coming up next weekend we'll be back to wrenching on the Miata on our quest to finally resolve the oil leak and finish the vinyl work to complete the 2016 livery.  Nationals is only a few more weeks away!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Yes Virginia, There are July Autocross Results!

Thanks for reading the NMS blog, we're getting close to 50,000 visitors!

Max Curtner says "thumbs up" to AutoX!
In the good news department, we had a great event with 99 drivers and the Tidewater Sports Car Club yesterday, and the NMS FIAT Abarth once again was the Fastest Italian Of The Day (FIOTD)! While the weather was very hot, the event ran smoothly and we wrapped it up by 3pm, so that made for not too much sun burn and dehydration.

Sign of the Scorpion

On the other hand, that was just good enough for 2nd place in the GS class, and 31st out of all 99 drivers. Congrats to John Henderson who took 1st in GS in his VW GTI, here's how our times compared over 4 runs each:

John Henderson: G Street winner 

1gs105John Henderson2014

gs77Robert Nixon2013 Fiat


After run 1, the FIAT was in the lead, but John in his VW was just warming up! After run 2 I had dropped a few tenths, but John closed the gap to about 1/10th of a second. Then on the third run he cranked it up and dropped another few tenths while I remained about the same and hit a cone too. Then on the last run I couldn't find any more speed on course while John did a great job dropping another 6/10th to take the win in G Street.

It's always a great day to Auto-X!

From the driver's seat in the FIAT I had a lot of fun, and thanks to Max Curtner for riding along and discussing driving strategies with me. He and I served in Iraq together, and it was great to see him and his family 7 years later. Autocross is kind of like the military, you get to know people, they become part of your family, and it's likely you'll run into them again in the future somewhere else along the way. 
Ever wonder what happens to a cone that gets stuck under a car, then drops out on the next run?

Hey, here's just some of the cool cars that came out on Sunday!

Jason Lisner's Corvette, Bobby Smith's classic Porsche

Mazda Miata

Formula car

Yes, the Honda S2000 Revs to 9000

Three more Porsches

One of two Volvos, just about ANY car can Auto-X!

Classic Chevy Camaro
Did I say any CAR can Auto-X? So can this Ford Ranger!

MR2 from Pete Frazier

Chris Parson's VW TDI

Classic Honda Civic

Steve Carr's 73 Z

60s Mini

Monday, July 18, 2016

So What is Rally Cross?

Rally Cross: You MIGHT get dirty!

Rally Cross, (or RallyX), (or Rally-X), is just an auto-cross, (or AutoCross), (or AutoX), (or autocross), (Ok, enough of that) on dirt.

(or sand.)

(or gravel.) 

(or mud.) 

In other words, (or said a different way), (or as some people put it...) take your average autocross driving around a challenging course of cones on pavement, and then, just take away the pavement!

Our friends in the South Carolina Region of the Sports Car Club of America are holding their first RallyX on Saturday July 23 at the Midway Motorsports Park in Greeleyville, SC. Why is it called "Midway?" Because it's "midway" between Columbia and Charleston of course!

RallyX Ford Focus by Phillip: Dirt by Georgia

Brian is our NMS AutoX expert, since he's actually done this before, so we'll be looking to see how he performs in this event, or what car he drives, or if he's just going to put on his worker hat for this event. With the NMS Miata getting fine tuned for nationals (on pavement), I don't think we'll see the car bouncing around the RallyX course just yet!

Way back in March of 2015 Brian posted this report on his RallyX experience.
(WARNING: Car photo content, Cars driving on dirt photo content, may not be suitable for road-going drivers that are squeamish about getting their cars dirty) NMS RallyX Blog Post LINK

Rally X after tape removal

More details, and registration information is now available at this link:  SCR Inaugural RallyX LINK

2016 SCR Inaugural RallyX #1

SCCA - South Carolina Region - Solo

Saturday, July 23, 2016
Midway Motorsports ParkGreeleyvilleSC
Registration ends on July 21, 2016 11:59 PM EDT
Are you bored with driving on pavement? Are you looking for something new and exciting to try? Do you ever wonder how much fun you could have sliding your car around cones in the dirt?
Come join us at Midway Motorsports Park as we get this program started. We’re going to be RallyCrossing at Midway!